A Culture of Intimidation and Fear

Students are afraid to speak out about the policy, worried they may be subject to the University’s retribution that could negatively impact their future educational or professional opportunities.

1.The potential harm of this effort reaches beyond freedom of association to principles of free speech, thought, and expression.

2.Students in sororities, fraternities, and final clubs have reported receiving calls on their personal cell phones from University officials urging them to comply with the policy—calls that in the face of the obvious power imbalance have made them intensely uncomfortable.

3.Extending such a restrictive and regimented approach to student social life stifles student creativity and smothers students’ rights. Mandated conformity cannot be in the service or spirit of diversity.

4.In one of his first addresses, new Harvard President Larry Bacow said, “I want to make sure that Harvard … [is] working hard to ensure what we can do to create opportunity for future generations,” yet the University is actively denying students personal development and leadership opportunities.

5.Harvard believes it is above the need for its students to participate in anything beyond Harvard. In doing so, Harvard robs students of critical opportunities for mentoring, networking, personal growth and leadership in organizations recognized and respected throughout the US.

6.In punishing fraternity and sorority members, Harvard aims to destroy something that appeals to over 1 million college studentsfrom all backgrounds—across North America.

7.Harvard thwarts student choice through paternalism. Harvard boasts that its students are among the brightest minds of their generation, yet administrators won’t trust them to make decisions about how they choose to associate with one another, violating their Constitutional rights.

8.The decision to punish students for their legal, off-campus activities was made during an unannounced meeting, held behind closed doors, without press or later release of transcripts or minutes, by the small, self-selecting, self-perpetuating governing body of 13, known as the “President and Fellows of Harvard College,” more commonly as the Harvard Corporation.

9. In deciding to sanction students for exercising their freedom of association, the 13 members of the Harvard Corporation ignored two years’ of loud opposition and legitimate objections from students, faculty, parents and organizations concerned by the stealthy continuing attack on student rights.

10.Harvard’s mission is to “educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society,” yet under this policy, their first lesson is to surrender your rights.

11.In disciplining students for their legal, off-campus affiliations, the 13 members of the Harvard Corporation violated the fifth and eleventh articles of the “University Statutes,” which vest the power to discipline students in those closest to them, the faculty.

12.In sanctioning students for pursuing a social life of their own choosing, Harvard has placed social conformity above academic excellence, denying Harvard professors the right to advance the rising scholars of the next generation the fellowships and academic privileges that these students have earned UNLESS these students first pass the values test set by the Harvard administration.

I think freedom of association is a profoundly important value and I think the idea that we would condition fellowship letters of the opportunity to be elected by one’s peers as captain of a football team on agreement with certain values is inconsistent with the central values of an academic institution.”

Lawrence H. Summers

Former President, Harvard University